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  1. #1
    Believe.
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    Buck Harvey: Spurs skirt snakes on the plain

    Web Posted: 04/14/2008 10:13 PM CDT

    Buck Harvey
    Express-News Staff Writer

    Robert McDermott never thought they were evil Okies. Neither did Peter Holt, even when he eliminated them from the equation.

    But there were signs then the Spurs were sleeping with the enemy, and what has been revealed lately outlines what was possible years ago when Clay Bennett and his company owned more of the Spurs than anyone else.

    Oh, how Seattle gets that.

    The Spurs always were vulnerable to relocation until funding for the AT&T Center was found, and McDermott saw danger in 1993. Then, he put together a 22-piece ownership group to buy the team from Red McCombs.

    McCombs has insisted he never would have sold to a group who intended to move the Spurs. But, as Seattle knows, intentions change.

    The previous Sonics owner, Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame, assured Seattle that Bennett's ownership group was the best option for keeping the team. Bennett was as assuring.

    Bennett, in those days in San Antonio, didn't say much. He was just part of McDermott's 22.

    Out front was a New York suit named Jack Diller. He had a lot of sports management experience but no ties to Texas. It was his job to find a path to a new arena.

    Bennett stayed in the background, albeit with his company, Gaylord Properties, as the largest shareholder. This is the only time in Spurs history when a group or person without ties to South Texas was in that position.

    Oklahoma City wasn't ready for the NBA in the mid-'90s, but Gaylord had other interests. The company oversaw a shiny arena in Nashville without a tenant.

    But that never became a public issue, even as Gaylord continued to buy shares of the Spurs as they became available. Diller, meanwhile, wasn't getting anywhere on the arena front.

    Had this continued, how long would it have been before Bennett offered the remaining investors a lucrative exit strategy?

    Enter Holt. He initially bought only 13 percent of the franchise, then purchased more when the Maloof brothers, who later purchased the Sacramento Kings, put in a bid.

    Holt's next move solidified everything, and anyone who considers him cheap should consider this: Holt bought out Gaylord.

    Holt was patient after that, letting others get in front of the arena push. The Tim Duncan lottery gave him a chip he never saw coming, but Hill Country Holt always made it clear he wasn't going anywhere. That went a long way toward building a community consensus.

    Gaylord also was patient, and it got a hockey franchise for its Nashville arena. Diller became team president.

    Looking back, was San Antonio in a chess game it didn't know was being played?

    Seattle has been in something closer to a vise. Bennett and his Oklahoma buddies bought the Sonics, then met the usual arena resistance that's in every city.

    Bennett, unlike Holt, reacted with threats and urgency. As one Seattle newspaper put it, Bennett's concept of good faith bargaining was "making absurdly grandiose, non-negotiable demands."

    Almost exactly a year ago, during this "good faith" period, a co-owner in Oklahoma City wrote to Bennett to ask: "Is there any way to move here for next season, or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?"

    Bennett's reply: "I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys. The game is getting started!"

    That exchange only surfaced recently. In the meantime, another co-owner slipped and told an Oklahoma City publication, "We didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle." Bennett responded with a lie fitting of these snakes on the plain.

    Bennett told David Stern his group has "never discussed moving the team to Oklahoma City."

    Bennett is a man possessed, all right, but Stern doesn't mind. He said Monday he's sticking by Bennett.

    Given that, it's a certainty a team that flourished for 41 years will leave one of North America's largest pro markets.

    And back in one of the smaller ones? Everyone should be thankful Bennett didn't stay around.

    bharvey@express-news.net

    Online at: http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/b...n.369826d.html

  2. #2
    Ghost of Mr. K SenorSpur's Avatar
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    David Stern should shoulder more of the blame here. He knew and co-signed the sale of this franchise to those bastards. Now he refuses to even address the subject. Stern is 2-faced, money-grubbing elitist. It makes no sense to relocate this franchise from a top-15 market to a market that hovers somewhere around 49th in the nation.

    I feel bad for the good fans of Seattle. They deserved better than to have been misled and deceived.

  3. #3
    Redemption complete Budkin's Avatar
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    Fucking bullshit... why the hell would Stern want this to happen?

  4. #4
    It is what it is. Mark in Austin's Avatar
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    because once Bennett (purposefully) destroyed any goodwill left in Seattle, Stern still thought he could ride in and get an arena. When Seattle told him to go fuck himself, his ego wouldn't let him recognize that Bennett made negotiations impossible - much like Charlotte losing the Hornets because the entire city wanted to lynch Shinn.

  5. #5
    The Crominator J.T.'s Avatar
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    I see what you did there, Buck Harvey.
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  6. #6
    half man half amazing
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    Fucking bullshit... why the hell would Stern want this to happen?
    because he's buddies with bennet, and because he wants to send a message to nba cities across the country: give our billionaire owners more money or we're moving the franchise.

  7. #7
    Ghost of Mr. K SenorSpur's Avatar
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    Fucking bullshit... why the hell would Stern want this to happen?
    Because he's pissed that the folks of Seattle didn't vote in favor of building a new facility for the Sonics. Nevermind the fact that they had just ponied up money to build stadiums for the Seahawks and Mariners over the past 5 years. In the wake of that decision, Stern has been publicly touting for months that "time has run out" on the Sonics future in Seattle.

    Plus he knew those OK City bastards were plotting the relocation of this franchise from the time the sale was approved. There are recently published emails that bear out the fact that the new ownership bought the team with premeditated ideas of relocating. That was their intent from the start.

    Finally, remember it was Stern who lobbied to designate OK City as the temporary home base for the Hornets during the 05-06 season, following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the city of New Orleans. This essentially provided a 1-year trial run for the NBA to evaluate whether the locals would support a team in the OK City community. They did so in overwhelming numbers. Good for them.

    So don't tell me that Stern didn't support this relocation. He knew all about the new ownership's intentions because he was a party to their intent to strong-arm and deceive the Seattle fans in the first place!

  8. #8
    He's heating up DespЏrado's Avatar
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    This is such utter and despicable bull shit.

    I hope Seattle finds a way to screw with Bennett's plans...Given enough time and a fair negotiation the city would have built an arena. But as it stands Bennett is defrauding this state of a beloved franchise.
    _____________________________

  9. #9
    Veteran The Truth #6's Avatar
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    The sad, last laugh will be when Oklahoma can't support their franchise after a few years. Just because Bennett has money doesn't mean the citizens do. I went through OK City - it was probably the most economically depressed "major" city I've ever seen in America.

    Stern blinded himself with a hard line about new arenas and an inablility to negotiate. Stern's ego surely has to be at work when he says an NBA franchise probably won't ever be back in Seattle. Seattle is full of marketing potential. He's shooting himself in the foot. Oh well...
    _____________________________
    "The Truth shall set you free..."

  10. #10
    Ghost of Mr. K SenorSpur's Avatar
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    The sad, last laugh will be when Oklahoma can't support their franchise after a few years. Just because Bennett has money doesn't mean the citizens do. I went through OK City - it was probably the most economically depressed "major" city I've ever seen in America.

    Stern blinded himself with a hard line about new arenas and an inablility to negotiate. Stern's ego surely has to be at work when he says an NBA franchise probably won't ever be back in Seattle. Seattle is full of marketing potential. He's shooting himself in the foot. Oh well...

    Exactly. Stern trips on his own ego - yet again.

    However, there are a lot of interesting developments going in with that situation. I read this morning that former owner Howard Schulz is filing a lawsuit to have the team returned back to him due to breach of promise or something like that.

    http://www.realgm.com/src_wiretap_ar...t_sonics_back/

  11. #11
    The OL' Perfessor wildbill2u's Avatar
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    Snakes? Sure and the Seattle fans and city fathers had to realize that.

    After building new facilities for the other teams, they made a decision not to do the same for a franchise and League President that were sending clear 'I'm moving" signals.

    Was it extortion of the fans and city? Sure. And Stern was part of the extortion on behalf of the league pour encourager les autres.

    Seattle chose to not be extorted. Good for them and Goodbye team.

    You can bitch all you want to about the new SA stadium and Holt, but in the last analysis the Spurs are still here, in one of the smallest markets in the country.

    We dodged a bullet in SA (by having a local owner and the city leadership to get the stadium) that Seattle took in the chops out of pride and attitude.

  12. #12
    Chillin' like a villain... TampaDude's Avatar
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    Bill Gates should step in and buy the Sonics to keep them in Seattle. Nothing against the fine people of OKC, but to move the Sonics there would be a travesty.

  13. #13
    Chillin' like a villain... TampaDude's Avatar
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    You can bitch all you want to about the new SA stadium and Holt, but in the last analysis the Spurs are still here, in one of the smallest markets in the country.

    We dodged a bullet in SA (by having a local owner and the city leadership to get the stadium) that Seattle took in the chops out of pride and attitude.
    Making the playoffs every year and winning 4 NBA Championships in 9 years doesn't hurt, either...

  14. #14
    That was not difficult. Obstructed_View's Avatar
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    Let's not make it sound like this situation is similar to what Art Modell did with the Browns. It looks more like voters of Seattle and the Washington legislature cut off their team to spite the ownership. I hope they take some satisfaction in the fact that said ownership is thriving halfway across the country with their basketball team. If Seattle really thinks he didn't meet the definition of "good faith" then they probably have a case to legally stop him from moving the team.

  15. #15
    That was not difficult. Obstructed_View's Avatar
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    Making the playoffs every year and winning 4 NBA Championships in 9 years doesn't hurt, either...
    May have had more to do with Timmy not leaving town.

  16. #16
    Chillin' like a villain... TampaDude's Avatar
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    May have had more to do with Timmy not leaving town.
    Of course Duncan was the catalyst for the Spurs' success, but that was not the point I was making...

  17. #17
    Bo Knows Spurs remingtonbo2001's Avatar
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    I've lost a lot of respect for Stern.

    Not that there was any respect to lose, but you get the idea.

  18. #18
    That was not difficult. Obstructed_View's Avatar
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    Of course Duncan was the catalyst for the Spurs' success, but that was not the point I was making...
    You misunderstand me. Timmy was a free agent during that time and said that he was less likely to sign with the Spurs if they didn't have an arena in place, because he didn't want the team to move while they had him under contract.

  19. #19
    Chopper Ed Helicopter Jones's Avatar
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    41 years gets pooped on and forgotten in a blink of an eye.





    Oh well. That's professional sports.

  20. #20
    Chillin' like a villain... TampaDude's Avatar
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    You misunderstand me. Timmy was a free agent during that time and said that he was less likely to sign with the Spurs if they didn't have an arena in place, because he didn't want the team to move while they had him under contract.
    The Spurs weren't stupid...thankfully...

  21. #21
    Chillin' like a villain... TampaDude's Avatar
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    41 years gets pooped on and forgotten in a blink of an eye.





    Oh well. That's professional sports.
    Not so fast...there's a lawsuit brewing (no pun intended)...

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3347564

  22. #22
    That was not difficult. Obstructed_View's Avatar
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    Not so fast...there's a lawsuit brewing (no pun intended)...

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3347564
    If Seattle really thinks he didn't meet the definition of "good faith" then they probably have a case to legally stop him from moving the team.
    Damn, I'm good sometimes.

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